Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – April 11, 2014

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By: Kaitlyn Morabito

photo credit: EssjayNZ via photopin cc

photo credit: EssjayNZ via photopin cc

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Guarded Optimism after breast cancer drug shows promising results  –  In a recent Phase II clinical trial, Pfizer’s breast cancer drug, palbociclib, was shown to decrease the risk of cancer progression by half. This results in about a 10-month difference in the time until progression in the treatment group compared to the control group. Although there was a trend towards increased survival by 4 months, the results were not significant.   Palbociclib inhibits cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and 6 curbing growth of cancer cells.   If the FDA waves the requirement for a Phase III clinical trial, this drug may be on the market as early as next year. If a Phase III clinical trial is required, approval will be delayed for several years. (Andrew Polluck)

Cheaper fuel from self-destructing treesIn an effort to decrease the cost of turning plants into biofuel, scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have genetically modified trees to express ferulic acid. In order to access the energy source of plants, long chains of sugars called cellulose, lignin that holds cellulose and hemicellulose fibers together must be degraded. This process includes the use of heat and chemical compounds to breakdown lignin and accounts for more than 25% of the cost of cellulosic ethanol based biofuels. Ferulic acid bonds with two other compounds to make up a modified lignin, which is easier to breakdown. The group has made genetically engineered popular trees and is working on making modified corn.  (Robert F. Service)

NIH stem cell programme closes – Amid uncertainty, the NIH’s Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM), which specializes in stem cell research, has been closed.   Although the center’s Director Mahendra Rao resigned on March 28th, and the institute’s website has been shutdown, there has been no official announcement from the NIH.   Many of the researchers associated with the institute have not received any information on the future of the center. According to officials, a panel of stem cell researchers will gather in May to discuss the fate of the program, including whether to move CRM projects to the National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences and what to do with the remaining budget. The closure of the center follows the funding of clinical trials for only one of the center’s projects, while preparations for clinical trials of 4 additional projects had already begun. (Sara Reardon)

Have an interesting science policy link?  Share it in the comments!

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

April 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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